As it was becoming apparent just what a courage COVID-19 was going to be for independent artists back in the spring of 2020, the digital direct marketplace Bandcamp decided to waive their fees for the first Friday of each month on any items purchased through their platform. The move was made as a way of injecting money directly into the pockets of struggling artists and has earned over $11.4 million for musicians since starting in April. One interesting development to take shape in the wake of this decision was the use of Bandcamp Days, as they’re called, to push messaging campaigns for worthy initiatives and fundraise for various causes. Many of these campaigns have been highly successful, with Bandcamp itself even getting into the spirit of things, donating the entirety of their fees to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund this past Juneteeth. While enthusiasm for the Bandcamp Days may not be what it was earlier in the year, it can still serve an important purpose in building and supporting community and causes through music.
Case in point, this Friday the Shut it Down: Benefit for the Movement for Black Lives comp has hit Bandcamp’s digital shelves with 100% of proceeds going towards The Movement For Black Lives. The record was organized and produced by Flora Lucini, bassist and vocalist of the Afro-Brazilian punk band Maafa, whose song “Welfare” appears on the comp. In the tradition of punk benefit comps of yore, Shut it Down is absolutely stacked with some of the most courageous and auspicious acts in hardcore, metal, and noise rock. Some like Terminal Nation contributed original tracks, while others like Primitive Man offered unreleased cuts from previous splits (the one featured here is from their split with Hell), and still others dropped live renditions of some of their better known (and topical) songs, with Jesus Piece rolling out a roiling version of “Oppressor” and Dawn Ray’d unleashing a stunning version of “Black Cloth.” Also featured on the comp is one of Cloud Rat’s psychedelic, nightmare soundscapes, and Vile Creature’s hymnal to empathy and humanity from their latest album Glory Glory! Apathy Took Helm!
There are literally too many highlights here review in any manageable way so I’ve picked out a few worthy bangers below to get you started.
Amygdala is a five-piece hardcore band out of San Antonio, Texas who combine elements of post-rock with doom and metalcore for deeply effecting examination of mental illness and survival in a world that is more hostile to you in inverse proportion to the amount of melanin in your skin. Their second LP Our Voices Will Soar Forever dropped last year and hits somewhere between Super Unison’s Auto and Converge’s You Fail Me. These guys straight up rip!
Burn has a pretty classic career trajectory for a hardcore band. Forming in 1989 in NYC, they dropped one record (1990’s self-titled EP) before disbanding in 1992, with lead singer Chaka Malik going on to form Orange 9mm and guitarist Gavin Van Vlack joining Quicksand (and, like, five other bands!) They would periodically reunite and release small albums over the next two decades before getting it together in 2017 for their debut LP, Do or Die, released on Deathwish and produced by Kurt Ballou. Like I said, a typical trajectory. All the same, they’re a phenomenal group who still carry that loose but forceful sense of angst and swagger that, to this day, only NYHC bands know how to pull off proper. Their contribution to the comp is an owed to friendship in the traditional hardcore style- first they fight, then they hug out!
La Armada is an anti-colonialist hardcore band out of Chicago. Originally formed in 2000 in the Dominican Republic they combine crust, powerviolence, and grind into a potent human lance that bores into the side of those who claim to be this world’s masters. They dropped a solid two-track EP back in February called Songs of the Exiled I: Chicago, of which their contribution to Shut it Down is gleened.
Rebelmatic are a Brooklyn based hardcore band who blend hip-hop, funk and metallic hardcore into a sonic revolution that is quickly shaking up the streets. They released the totally wild Ghost In The Shadows earlier this year, a ripping revue of Bad Brains and Rage Against the Machine, presented as a survival playbook for making it through another day in the modern-day United States. Their track on Shut it Down is taken from their 2014 album Elephant Amnesia.
The St. Louis based Redbait describe themselves as “Midwestern proletarian crust” and perform a savage blend of death vocals hardcore and grind to inspire worker consciousness, class solidarity, and an end to the god damned patriarchy! The group is lead by vocalists Rebecca and M. who draw as much inspiration from their combined experience in the realm of activism as they do from the worlds of punk and metal. They only have two releases under their belts, the Red Tape demo and the New Age Records released Cages EP, but they are a band to watch and are well-positioned to make some big moves in the coming years. Their contribution to the comp is a combined two-track and harrowing live rendition of “To Destroy” and “Knife Fight.” Make sure you have a suture at the ready and a medical professional on the line before smashing play.
Check out the entire Shut it Down: Benefit for the Movement for Black Lives comp below: